Ep. #1217 - Shifting Your Company’s Culture
Today’s episode of Startup Hustle features Matt DeCoursey and Dan Michelson, Founder and CEO of InCommon. They have an insightful conversation on the art of shifting your company’s culture. Tune in as Matt and Dan explore the essence of company culture, the profound impact leaders wield in shaping it, and the fundamental components involved in its cultivation. Furthermore, they talk about Dan’s book, “The Holy Shift,” emphasizing the significance of relationships and passion in the corporate world. It also discusses how fostering the right culture catalyzes company growth.
Covered In This Episode
The pandemic and the Great Resignation revealed endemic problems in employee engagement and company culture. InCommon helps bring purpose and pride to the workplace, shifting your company’s culture.
Listen to Matt and Dan’s conversation about Dan’s career of helping companies grow. They discuss the limits of what leaders can do and how to create a culture of collaboration. Dan describes the benefits of CORE (Community, Opportunities, Relationships, Experiences) in getting people excited to work. They talk about leveraging the flow of change to create relationships with your team. The conversation answers what helps a company grow and develop relationships with its team.
Do you think shifting your company’s culture might help your business? Join the conversation in this Startup Hustle episode now.
- Dan’s career of helping companies grow (1:25)
- The Great Resignation and shifting of company culture (4:57)
- The limits of what leaders can do (9:39)
- CORE: Community, Opportunities, Relationships, and Experiences (15:00)
- Creating a culture of collaboration (19:37)
- Passion is playing with a purpose (21:56)
- Getting people excited to work (29:12)
- Leveraging the flow of change (35:25)
- What helps your company grow? (38:42)
- Create relationships with your team (40:22)
How do you really help a company grow? It turns out that the simple hack for that is to help people grow, so if they’re part of something and they’re growing, your company will grow. It’s not a great short-term strategy because it takes some time and investment, but the best long-term scale strategy. With the company that you run, that relationship with those customers is huge, right? But you do not have that unless people are treated well and feel like they’re part of a community and part of your company.– Dan Michelson
I always see these, these payroll battles that occurred, too. And I will tell you that there’s a whole group of people out there who are more concerned about working with technology and things that they like and are interested in, as opposed to getting a higher paycheck and trading that off. So, it’s not always about dollars.– Matt DeCoursey
I think as a leader, or as a, you know, creator of a company, you have an amazing opportunity to put your fingerprints on something really important. The most important part will be the relationships that you build with the people who are on your team and the ability to affect their lives.– Dan Michelson
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Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!
Matt DeCoursey 00:01
And we’re back, back for another episode of Startup Hustle. Matt DeCoursey, here to have another conversation, I’m hoping helps your business grow. So holy shift, we got to shift our mentality about our company’s culture. And the way we’re going to shape that both now and in the future. This is something you should always be looking at as a leader, as a founder, as an entrepreneur, as a member of any company or organization. We’re going to talk all about that and more today in an episode that is powered by FullScale.io. Hiring software developers is difficult and Full Scale can help you build a software team quickly and affordably and has the platform to help you manage that team. Go to FullScale.io. To learn more. Now, you hear me yelling things like holy shift, it’s because today’s guest is the author of Holy Shift, Moving Your Company Forward to the Future of Work. And his name is Dan Michelson. He’s also the founder and CEO at Incommon, go to incommon.com. There’s a link for that and a link for FullScale.io in the show notes, scroll down and give those a click. Straight out of Chicago, Illinois. Dan, welcome to Startup Hustle.
Dan Michelson 01:14
Thanks, man. Appreciate the opportunity.
Matt DeCoursey 01:16
Yeah, you know, let’s, let’s get the conversation started with a little bit more about your backstory. And what, what brought you to us here today on Startup Hustle?
Dan Michelson 01:25
Yeah, well, I mean, thematically, I’ve listened to a bunch of your podcasts, the whole theme, if you want to put it down and put into blender, take out one word, it would be grow. Right? So how do you really help a company grow? And, you know, it turns out that the simple hack for that is to help people grow, you know, so if they’re part of something and they’re growing, your company will grow. It’s a not a great short-term strategy because the takes some time and investment, but the best long-term scale strategy could possibly have. So my whole career, my whole background is building and scaling companies, using that kind of approach, building world-class company cultures where people love to work. And more companies love to work with us, right? So just with the company that you run, that relationship with those customers is huge, right? But you’re not going to have that unless people are treated well, and they feel like they’re part of a community and part of your company. So my career, most of it 30-plus years in health care. So last 20 years in technology, was with a company, it was essentially a restart, Matt. It was if you go to your doctor’s office, and they pull out a computer or electronic health record, that was me. So I was part of the group of people who mainstreamed that in the country. We grew a company from 50 people to 5000 people. Was a very wild ride for the last 10 years. At that company, I was actually the Chief Marketing Officer, Chief Strategy Officer as a public company called All Scripts. For the last 10 years, I did another restart. So this was a private equity-backed company, was 15 years old. That’s about 50 people, we restarted the company. Grew into one of the more prominent companies in healthcare. So half of US healthcare now runs on a company called Strata for everything they do on the financial side of healthcare, the two notes of both of those companies. So growth grew significantly, one to over a billion dollars in revenue, one to over a billion dollars in value. The the tie that binds those two things together, was once again culture, right? That was the centerpiece of growing and scaling and building those companies not always perfect. But you know, the nice thing is, is when you don’t get it right, if you have relationships you can get through to tomorrow, as you probably do with the kind of work you’re doing. So that’s a little bit of a snapshot.
Matt DeCoursey 03:48
Well, yeah, what I went through Full Scale, and I think a lot of business owners, leaders, CEOs, people in charge went through was, you know, march 2020 rolls around, we get a global pandemic, which is something we haven’t dealt with. So many of us sent everyone to go work from home and had to immediately create a new culture. There may be one that we weren’t even prepared for or hadn’t done in the past. And now here we are in 2023. And a lot of people are calling folks back to the office are still trying to work on that. And there’s this middle ground that is developing and it makes you have to shift your company culture again. As far as our company, we stayed remote. It made a lot more sense for us to do that. We were well positioned with what we do to be able to do that and have the platform to help support it. But I mean, what, let’s start the conversation with like, you know, you talk about shifting a company’s culture like we were forced to do it. So what if you’re forced to shift into a culture that you didn’t really want to embrace in the first place? How do you either back out of that or work around it or do something with it?
Dan Michelson 04:57
So this is where this conversation so awesome, and it’s hyper relevant to everybody’s listening, right? We’re living history right now, Matt. This is the single biggest and fastest shift in how we work and live in human history. So thousands years from now, people will look back at this moment. So I was 10 years in to running this company. And we had hit our numbers for 10 years in a row. We had grown by, like I said, 2,000%. Significantly, we are the number one rated company in our industry in terms of customer experience. And we were one of the top 20 companies in the world on Glassdoor. So think about that. So customers, I mean, employee ratings, one of the top 20 in the world, but then all of a sudden shift happens, right? So like you said, things started to move in March 2020. But that led up to January of 2022, during the Great Resignation, right, and I was 10 years into running this company. We’d already sold this company to a public company. So I stuck around for one or seven years, but it was time for a new challenge. And all of a sudden our ratings on Glassdoor, which is employee ratings, typically when they leave a company, started to dip. And Matt, my epiphany was like if I’m struggling with this, and I’ve literally been maniacal about this my entire career, creating a place where people love to work and feel accepted and respected. If I’m struggling with this, I think everyone is. So what I did, Matt, is I reached out to YPO, which is the largest association of CEOs in the world. And I said, Hey, let’s let’s team up to do some research on this topic. We interviewed 16, 171 CEOs in 97 different industries in 47 different countries. And the one thing that they had in common was they were there was a crisis of confidence in company culture. When you were just saying, it wasn’t just you, it wasn’t just me, it was everybody everywhere, in every industry, every place in the world had the same problem. When has that ever happened in business history with everybody struggling on the same thing? So it turns out what that inspired me to do was to leave my company, and set out on a quest to try to figure out the path forward and do exactly what you were just describing. It’s like, what do I do now? Because you’re right, this was all forced upon us. But when anything happens from a business perspective, let’s say you’re starting up a company or a year or two in what’s going to happen, competitive changes, regulatory changes, market changes, well, this was an enormous change. And what you’re supposed to do is pivot when those things happen. And my concept was all about instead of how to bring people back to where things were before, Matt, how do you bring people forward to the future. And that’s really what I’ve created a playbook to do.
Matt DeCoursey 07:44
So you know, in the year of the, quote, resignation, which I’ve actually talked about a lot this year, that was 2022. Now we have a 93%, employee retention rate that year, and we were on kind of the opposite end of it. I mean, it’s retention rate that was so high that when I told people about it, some of my peers called bullshit. It, but it’s true. And it was, and you know, for us, I think we did a lot of the stuff and Full Scale that you were mentioning, like, you got to have a company, the company has to care about the employees, but the employees also have to care about the company and the service they provide or whatever it is that they do. That’s in my opinion, that’s a two-way door. And you can’t really do one well without the other. But I think that the basis of that starts and, you know, how so how does a company care? I think a lot of companies get this wrong, you know, they they do weird, goofy shit, they want to put an extra ping pong table in the lounge or something like that. And, you know, I think the first step in, in showing that your company cares is listening to the voice and the collective opinion of the people in the community, that is your company, you know. And we’ve done a lot of that I do these, you know, town hall a couple times a year, do a town hall type meeting. Now, we’re an all remote company, and we had been doing this before the pandemic, but I send out video messages because they’re real easy to communicate with worldwide, but, you know, answer all the questions and doing stuff like that. You know, because I’ll get the same question like 15 times. Now, that might that tells me that that’s all in a lot of people’s minds. And yeah, I mean, does does the beginning of change and setting a culture for your company began with the leaders actually having an open mind about listening to what the people at the company want to achieve as well?
Dan Michelson 09:37
A 100%, but it really goes beyond that. So what I got wrong, and what I think a lot of people are now realizing is that working in a company now is not as much about a collective experience as much as an individual experience. So in some ways, we’ve shifted from a macro to micro. What we found is that there’s limits on how much leaders can do. So it doesn’t matter if you’re living, if you’re living in a community, if you’re going to school, or if you’re working in a company, your direct experience, Matt, is you and the people around you. So there’s only so much that a CEO or even leadership team can do. It’s that relationship that someone has with the manager and the people around them that really matters the most. And the key is think of a company almost as like a neural network, you’re trying to create as many connections as you can, and strengthen those connections. So when somebody, let’s just talk about isolation, because that’s been a major issue, from a societal perspective, if there’s one after effect, or aftershock that’s massive from the pandemic, it’s this isolation epidemic, and isolation and depression directly correlate. So how do you solve that? Well, the way to solve that is by creating connections between people. So in a distributed setting, that’s the main game is how do you create a sense of community and create relationships. There’s, yes, putting out video messages and having all hands meetings, pretty, pretty good foundationally. But what data has shown, prominently through McKinsey, is that 70% of someone’s experience at work is going to be dictated by their relationship with their manager. So in that light, there’s one column of things that you can do as a company related to culture. That community part that’s really you, Matt, that’s the leadership team. But the relationship part, you know, that’s really the that that experiences that person on a daily basis, and the people around them. Turns out that if you were divide those out, the stuff you’re doing is 30% effective, the stuff they’re doing or experiencing is really 70% of the story.
Matt DeCoursey 11:48
You know, we spent a lot of time and effort with employee engagement, especially during the pandemic because we even created a position for it, it still remains at the company, and just creating things that so you know, Seth Godin wrote a book called Tribes. There was, you’re not supposed to use the word tribes anymore. So please don’t blast me for that this is the name of the book. But within that, within what he describes as the tribe or the community, he really puts an emphasis on creating interaction between the people in the community, not just sitting them in a seat and pointing them towards the stage. Meaning there, if you can create a community, and an involvement between people in it that are just as interested, if not more interested in their engagement with each other as they are with the feature attraction. Now, in the book, right in the beginning of the books, talks about the Grateful Dead as a band and talks about that community because you know, people follow that band all over the world. And if you and I’m old enough to have actually gone to a Grateful Dead concert a very long time ago. And half the people, they’re there for the parking lot. And if they get into the show, great if they don’t, they don’t care because they’re there to see each other, they want to see their friends, their community. And you see this occur in everything from like a concert parking lot, to online forums, to inside corporate worlds. And, you know, we did that, like we do a quarterly team bonding event. So we get people out of their house and around each other and doing something fun, that’s still team oriented. We have a lot of clubs, a lot of, you know, we even do have a company holiday, every year where we give everybody a day off to go out and do community outreach, and we set up all the events and all that so accomplishing a lot of wins and stuff like that. I think another thing too, is as we have one of the things that was coming up in the questions was, as you mentioned, getting people moving forward and a direction that they felt was positive. So first off paying people above market, but more moreso give me an opportunity for training or involvement. And that’s a challenge at a company like ours because I can’t always control what what technology and tools and stuff like that that our clients use. So you know, providing additional training and just stuff like that, in my opinion, made a really big difference. But yeah, that engagement’s big and I think that like you said making sure and I’m not anyone I’m very few people’s direct manager at this point, but that I do have spent a lot of time working with the management to try to help them understand when how and who needs to be pushed or pulled. And there’s a difference with people. Some people need to be pushed and some people need to be pulled and some people don’t need either. Those folks in my are very rare in mind. So yeah, but if you’re but if you’re pulling someone that needs pushing, or pushing someone that needs pulled, you’re gonna probably not get the reaction that the result you want.
Dan Michelson 15:00
Yeah, I’ll just say that intuitively you’re doing a lot of the things that the data shows correlate to the things that really matter. Right? So, you know, in our research and McKinsey’s research and Gallop’s research, if you were to put everything into a blender, Matt, and you were to say, okay, what is the most? What are the things that correlate the most with the three things that leaders care about the most? The three things that leaders care about the most are productivity, are our people productive? Engagement? Are they do they want to work here? Are they working? You know, are they engaged with the work that they’re doing? And then retention, like, what you just said, 93%? Are they staying or leaving? Right? So it turns out, there’s four things that directly correlate to those three things. So if you were just saying, like, someone’s listening to Startup Hustle here, and they’re saying, Okay, we thought was this concept of culture? What does it really mean? Listen, strategically, you’re trying to drive productivity, engagement, and retention. Great. Okay. And then just psychologically, you’re trying to make this the best place someone’s ever worked and the best job they’ve ever had. Okay, great. That’s the starting point. So what are what do we do in order to drive a strategy, you can’t be just tactical, it can’t just be have an event, do this. It has to be part of a strategic framework. So it turns out the four things that correlate the most, and you’re hitting on them? Are one) community, do I feel a sense of belonging two) opportunity. Do I feel like I have a future here? Three) relationships? Do I have trusting relationships? Or are they toxic, right? We all know those toxic relationships. That’s what drives us from a job. And then lastly, experiences when you were just saying that, are you getting tangible experiences that help you grow? So that acronym Community, Opportunity, Relationships, and Experiences is CORE, that’s what we used in this book to explain, you’re trying to get as many people to feel like they’re part of the CORE as possible. And once again, don’t approach it from a macro perspective, only things you’re doing globally. You have to approach it from individuals experience, and get with that person and make sure that they feel strongly about all four of those things, or if not, what are the specific actions or things that you can do with them to drive improvement because, you know, you and I both know, this, I mean, sounds like you’ve started a bunch of different companies. I’m guessing you get bored if you’re doing the same thing every day, every week, every month or every year, you know. So it’s that constant challenge that we have that a lot of people really view is the most important part of their job. I interviewed, we had 500 people in my last company, I interviewed every single person that ever came into the company, I did an exit interview with everybody who ever left. Thematically, the same things came up: Community, Opportunity, Relationships and Experiences, right? Those are the things that matter the most, it’s not just that the data points that out. It’s just common sense, right? And I think we’ve lost our way when it comes to the common sense of working for a company. People want to feel that pride and purpose in a job. Right? And it’s our job to ensure that they do. That’s the job of leaders.
Matt DeCoursey 17:57
Yeah, I think overall, with the way we shape things, like, as you mentioned, there’s a little bit of all of that. You know, it says some of this stuff, you know, you can read a book about it, you can listen to a podcast, you can listen to an audiobook about it, you can talk to your friends, but until you see examples of it in real life, you don’t necessarily understand the power of some of this stuff. But in my particular case, when it came to creating a lot of the clubs in the communities. There was a guy that in the Philippines that I had been trying to hire for months, and I ended up just giving this guy a huge offer. And he turned it down still. And finally, I was just like what is going on because we’re like a really, really, there’s a lot of hype and buzz around our company, right? I couldn’t get this guy to come across the street, even though a bunch of people he knew worked over there. And as it turned out, he just didn’t want to quit the company because he had been on the company basketball team for like 10 years with his friends. And he took a lot. He just really that was a big thing for him. So I said, what if we started a basketball team? Now? I still didn’t get to hire him. He’s still turned me down. But I was like, man, if that’s one of the things that’s gonna give someone a reason to stick around for 10 years, let’s start more of that stuff. So we have a basketball team, we have a badminton team, we have a music club, a mountaineering, I mean, there’s a whole bunch of them. Because these things aren’t really that expensive to own and operate. We created a budget for him and if that’s what makes people happy, if that’s what makes people want to stay like all the things I just mentioned, we’re also things that are like active and somewhat maybe not the music club, unless you’re a dancer.
Dan Michelson 19:37
But also when you’re hitting on is that people don’t relate based on things that work. They relate relate on things that are in that they have in common. So the company I started InCommon. So think of the holy shift is the mindset. Here are things that you can do to create shift in your company. Right? Here’s the game plan. Here are the plays that you can run. You can check them off one by one. With that said, you also need a tool set. So we created a platform that does what you just described. So we in 60 seconds can figure out what people have in common with each other. And then we can form communities based on those things. So if I profile you, and I understand that, Matt, you like hiking, you have kids, you’re into music, you know, let’s just take 15 things. Then I can show you immediately, okay, here’s 200 other people at your company that you have at least five things in common with. I can introduce you to all 500 or 200 of those people, then I can bring you into communities, like you just described a basketball community, right? I think community, a dog, a community of dog owners, right? A working parents group, all those things can then happen organically in terms of how we bring people together. But the things that you’re already doing that, those would fall into a playbook that other people should do because that really is, you know, how you bring people together. It’s not just based on your vision, mission, and values of your company. It’s based on the personal connection that people feel from each other. So like when someone leaves a company, what are they leaving? They’re leaving the people, it’s very easy to leave a company where you have no connections, obviously, right? If you live in a community where you’ve met nobody very easy to leave. If you went to a school, where you didn’t make any friends, pretty easy transition from that, if you work at a company where you don’t feel that sense of connection with other people, you can leave tomorrow and you’ve been leaving nothing behind. It’s that those are like, if you were to look at like the three most important words in real estate, people say like location, location, location, you know, I’m now in my mid 50s. I say this to leaders all the time, if you were to give advice to people, your kids, who are now coming out of college like mine, what would you say are the three most important things, relationships, relationships, relationships. You know, and so we’d say
Matt DeCoursey 21:56
Passion, passion, passion, actually, might be part of it. But like for us, one of the main things is, we put it really so and keep in mind all business. For those of you listen, all businesses are different, you got to find a thing that links people to what they want. Now, you know, we employ hundreds of software developers, and this seems like a pretty good time to remind everyone that finding expert software developers doesn’t need to be difficult, especially when you go to FullScale.io, where you can build a software team quickly and affordably. You can use Full Scale as platform to define your technical needs, and then see what available developers testers and leaders are ready to join your team. Go to FullScale.io to learn more, there’s a link in the show notes for that. There’s also a link to InCommon, who does a similar thing, they ask you a couple questions, they ask a bunch of people even more questions, and then match people up with the things that make sense. But you know, one of the I think one of the things that I mean, the community and the outreach and the caring, and that stuff was are a crucial part. But I, I put a big, a big emphasis on us trying to match up. So you look at our company, we we hire someone and they are our employee, but then that employee needs to become a member of someone else’s team. They have to go embrace another company’s culture. They have to do the tasks that they provide. That is so much easier to get up and do and feel good about every single day, if it’s something that you’re passionate about doing. So if you can match people up. Just because someone’s good at something also doesn’t mean that they like doing it. It doesn’t mean that they’re passionate about it. Honestly, I’m good at a lot of shit that I don’t like doing. And guess what, I don’t do it well, for that reason. Now, if you get people around things, they’re passionate about showing up to me where it doesn’t feel as much like work. And it also feels like you’re moving forward, it feels like hey, I’m really doing something. So I think when people go to potentially leave one organization and go to another that comes into mind, because it’s an unknown about what they’re gonna have to deal with or what they’re going to work with. Am I going to get to do the stuff I like doing? I want to do the stuff I feel that moves my career forward? And am I getting the right kind of experience. Now all that can fall for us can fall under that passion. Now what we find is if and we figured this out really early, but if we put someone that isn’t passionate, so we just asked in the interview, you know, what are the what do you really what are you most passionate about when it comes to software development? What do you like doing the most? What do you like doing the least? And when we’re creating this pairing, if you what you like doing the least is a major part of that other of the job, you’re not a good match for it. Now, look, let’s be adults here and also clarify that sometimes at work you have to do things you don’t like. You just don’t want to have to do them 90% of your debt. So I think that that and the relationships are are great too. But I think if you if you remove the passion, you remove a lot of the result.
Dan Michelson 25:06
Yeah, I think, you know, we call it playing with purpose, right? So to some extent, passions can be transient, like what I love music, I like today may not be the music I like tomorrow, you know, I might have this hobby today and maybe a different one tomorrow. But like when you’re saying like, if I really my purpose is let’s say, as a software developer, I really want to grow. That’s and I really want to build something that matters, or I really want to help a customer solve a problem that runs a little bit deeper. And maybe they’re willing to put up with something like you said, that they may not be passionate about at the moment because it’s part of the greater purpose in terms of what they’re trying to how they’re trying to grow or develop or contribute, you know, in some form or fashion.
Matt DeCoursey 25:46
Yeah, and then, you know, it’s, I always see these, these payroll battles that occurred to. And I will tell you that there’s a whole group of people out there that are more concerned about working with technology and things that they like, and that they’re interested in, as opposed to getting a higher paycheck and trading that off. So it’s not always about it’s not always about dollars, or
Dan Michelson 26:12
money, me running a pretty large software company, and we re platformed our entire application, we were going to have to do it anyways. Right? But we accelerated that because we had a hard time recruiting developers who want to work on what was versus what what will be. So that’s a company that a lot of legacy that’s a it’s a challenge that a lot of legacy software companies run into is, you know, and becomes a pretty hard to recruit people for that. And then so therefore, maybe sometimes they outsource some of that work, you know, to organizations like yours. And then those might be projects that some people find, from a development perspective, somewhat unappealing, you know, in terms of the work they’re doing so that that bit goes on. But that’s where that, you know, in CORE, that’s where that experience part comes into play. Are you doing hackathons? Are you giving them other experiences that are really helping them grow, if you can feed that and give them a portfolio of things that they’re doing? You know, I always say it’s like, your career is like one big jar. And you know, every experience, doesn’t matter if it’s a bad experience, actually, sometimes bad experiences are, are actually much more helpful in terms of your growth. But every experience you get, you put another marbles in that jar, and the key is to, is to fill that jar as much as you possibly can. So really, you should be an experience junkie. You know, if you want to grow in your career, now, the great thing about working for an organization like yours is you get to work with different clients, you get to have these different projects that you’re working on. And as long as that portfolio comes together into something that’s meaningful, you know, that actually can be a really appealing job as opposed to somebody going just to work for one company and all they’re gonna be working on is that stack?
Matt DeCoursey 27:55
Well, that’s a key ingredient for us, too, is you know, it’s, it’s, it kind of throws people off sometimes when we get on a first call with them. And they realize that we’re interviewing them as much as they are us. And we have fired clients for creating a shitty work environment for our employees. And we have told a bunch of people, No. It just doesn’t seem like a good fit. And sometimes it’s like related to the kind of tasks that they need done. I mean, I have said this following phrase a bunch, I don’t know if there’s anyone in our company that’s really going to enjoy working on that. Which means I don’t want to sign you up as a client because that lack of passion isn’t going to exist, you’re probably going to have people turning off your account. And then you know, one of the things that we’re doing when we recruit people, and part of how we get the best people is that, you know, top pay, top equipment, top projects. And you know, like I said, people want to I don’t know, your day goes by a lot faster when you’re not doing mind numbing stuff. So yeah, definitely. There’s definitely a mix. I don’t think there’s a silver bullet that solves all of this. It’s like it’s a whole array of different things that need to exist and keep happening.
Dan Michelson 29:12
Yeah, but to backup your point. So we just did research with people in every corner of the country, right? So these are not leaders, like the last set of research I was telling you about. This are people working in companies. The number of people who want to get out of bed or excited to get out of bed and go to work in the morning right now, nationally, is 1 out of every 10. So when you talk about
Matt DeCoursey 29:35
I’m surprise that it is even that high.
Dan Michelson 29:38
Well, so then it’s surprising, right? So just think about what you just said. You’re surprised it’s even that high. But in your company, I bet you would argue it’s 10 out of 10, nine out of 10, eight out of 10. So if you think about that, you know, we have this real challenge here regarding how we work. It is such an enormous shift, you know, in terms of how we think that we’ve got it think different. That’s the key. We’ve got to think different and try different things. But a lot of it comes down to the concepts that you’re talking about is each individual person, like you said, when you interviewed them. You’re trying to teach something out. I told you I interviewed every single person. I never weighed in on any of them unless they were reporting to me. No, I didn’t want to. I just want to get on with them for 20 minutes on the phone, it was never on Zoom. And we just so they can feel connection to me. Our, our acceptance rate because of that, and other things we were doing was roughly 94, 95%. But the only question I asked, I only asked one question, like there was preconceived, I would ask other questions just to go with the flow. But one question, what questions do you have for me? Because all I was trying to tease out was, do they really want this job or a job, if they really want this job, like you just said, I’m gonna go back to your were means your passion, they are excited. They’re going to come and play with a sense of purpose. They’re going to grow, they’re going to contribute, it’s going to make a difference if they’re like, I’m interviewing with three people, or three different companies I have offers. And yeah, I don’t know. No, no questions. I think everyone’s answered every question for me. Well, if you’re not curious, and you have the chance to talk to the CEO, you know, about the context of the company. Maybe this isn’t the right place for you, you know. And so that’s where I knew I didn’t once again, I didn’t weigh in, but I was not surprised at all if they were gone a year later.
Matt DeCoursey 31:28
Yeah, I think one of the things so you know, when I first started going over the Philippines, let me back up for a second. So we had 100 employees after a year. That’s a pretty fast path, right? Especially for a bootstrap company, we didn’t come in with like a huge war chest of funds or anything like that. And I would go over to the our office in the Philippines. And this is when everyone would still come to the office every day. And I would spend the majority of my day like the other leaders wanted to make meetings with me and stuff like that. I said, let’s do that in between shifts, or before people get here. And I say, because when I’m here, I want to talk to the people that work at the company. And you mentioned like getting feedback. And when you get feedback, if you want to get good feedback, you got to do it in a way that people that give the feedback can potentially be anonymous, and really, like, say what they say. So like, after I’d go and visit and I’d be there for, you know, a week or two. And I would go around and I would talk to everyone and I would just sit down and hang out with them for a few minutes. And oh my god, the overwhelming feedback I would get after I left was the people saying things like, I can’t believe the CEO came around and talk to us for as long as he did and as much as he did, and all that, and it really made us feel really good. And my first thought was a comment was where have you been working? You know, like, like, I mean, I should be the most accessible person, if possible. Now, that doesn’t mean for every single thing you need, like you shouldn’t need to go get CEO approval to buy postage stamps. But with that, you know, like, I think that, you know, I look at that, and that and that, in my opinion had a lot to do. Okay, so here, here we go from that to a year later, you know, a global pandemic breaks out. And this is where you’re established. This is the times, these are the times that you want to be able to make a withdrawal from the social capital that you have accumulated within your the community that you lead. And I did that. I had to do that. But I stood, I stood in front of our company and I happened to be in the Philippines when the pandemic was breaking out. I actually extended my trip, I could have left on the jet plane out on March 20, which if you don’t remember the dates that they had just canceled the NCAA basketball tournament three days prior. It was getting real and I stayed. And I remember because I had to speak to our company that night, which looking back at it was kind of wild because the pandemics just getting started. And I said for everyone says I have never been through a pandemic. I have never dealt with this before. Neither of you, neither has anyone else. There’s not an expert we can bring in in this matter. I just need all of you to know that no matter what we are going to make decisions that protect you and your family. We’re not going to put you in any bad situations. But a lot of those decisions are going to have to be made as we progress through this together. And for a person giving a very loose answer to what how are we going to handle this? That went over really well. Because because it was just honest. It was just like it was open and I said I don’t know but we will figure this out and we’ll figure it out together and and we did, we did.
Dan Michelson 35:00
Yeah, well, let’s go back to your walk around it in the Philippines. You know, there’s a Teddy Roosevelt, quote, actually have it in the book and just pulled it up. People don’t know how I don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Right? So what leaders the mistake they make is getting up and saying, here’s a vision mission values, here’s the great things I’ve done, you should be impressed. You’re lucky to work here. Right? And so they,
Matt DeCoursey 35:23
I’m lucky they work here.
Dan Michelson 35:25
Right, exactly, exactly. That’s how the pendulum is swung, right. So during the Great Resignation was like, You’re lucky to have me, that’s how employees felt. And now you know that we’ve gone through the last six months, where a lot of layoffs have happened, people are like, you’re lucky to have a job. But the pendulum always swings back and forth. But the March 2020 meeting I had with our all hands, when we told everyone, they’re gonna go remote, it’s gonna be a long time, we were healthcare companies. So we at least had some kind of healthcare data company, or large healthcare data companies in the world. So we had good sense that this was gonna be a long trail. But the quote I put up is, in times of chaos, confusion and conflict, characters revealed leaders emerge. So this was an opportunity, right? And I think this moment is the same thing, right? So one of the things that it is a research past pandemics to the bionic plague, in the 1300s, the Spanish flu, the 1900s, turns out both created labor movements. During the bubonic plague was the first labor movement, because one of every two people in Europe died. So you had, you know, a fight, you know, to get people to move to a different jobs, which they never did. They stayed on the same land of the lord for generations. So this was a big change, they got an average wage of about 300%, during the Spanish flu was about 200% because one out of every 50 people in the world died. So the same kind of challenges coming off World War One. And now, you know, we have, you know, kind of the realization that, you know, in order to drive change in any business or within any company, you need a catalyst. Right? You need a burning platform. Well, this is it, you know, we’ve had this enormous change, and what what’s happening is that leaders are fighting against instead, instead of leveraging the flow of it, and that’s really what the book is about. That’s what all my work is about. So how to take this moment, and really create momentum with it.
Matt DeCoursey 37:16
Yeah, and sometimes you need to surrender to the flow because the flow is more powerful than you. If you have ever tried to walk upstream against any kind of what the current, you get that so yeah, I don’t know how this fish swim upstream just to go lay eggs, it seems. It seems like it’s really difficult. But what isn’t difficult as hiring software engineers, testers, and leaders at your company Full Scale can help with that. We have people on the platform to help you build and manage a team of experts. When you visit FullScale.io, all you need to do is answer a few questions. And our platform will match you up with fully vetted highly experienced software engineers, testers and leaders. At Full Scale, we specialize in building long term teams that work only for you. Learn more when you go to FullScale.io. There’s a link for that in the show notes. Once again, with me today is Dan Michelson and Dan’s the founder and CEO and Incommon, you gotta incommon.com. And there’s a link for that in the show notes to Well, Dan, you know, with this, we cruised right through this episode. And it’s time for the founders freestyle, where I give any founder that’s on the show with me a chance to take the microphone and say whatever they want before I’m going to do the same. So here you go, sir. What would you like to say to all of the Hustlers out there?
Dan Michelson 38:42
Well, I guess, you know, here’s what a, I would say. Work is actually a very simple concept, right? And when we feel good about it, it affects our personal life. When we feel good personally and affects our work life. You know, we don’t have a work life and personal life, we have one life, right? And so, we’ve kind of shifted from this approach of, you know, what I call workflow, you know, everything revolves around work to life flow, everything is flowing together. So, I think as a leader, or as a, you know, creator of a company, you have an amazing opportunity to put your fingerprints on something really important. The most important part will be the relationships that you build with the people who are on your team, and the ability to affect their lives. So I would say in my career, which is now over 30 years, the thing I’ve looked back and I feel the best about is the impact I’ve had on helping other people grow around me. And I think if you do that, you know, that’s what helps your company grow, ultimately. So I would just say get hyper personal, be super practical, right? Because, you know, you’re running a business but at the end of the day that’s run for the most part by people, and their contributions aren’t, as some people say, like, some people say our people are our most important assets. Nope. If you’re using the word assets when talking about people, you’re missing the point. But if you want to build a great company, in something that’s truly built to last, it’s going to be because of the team and the people around you. So, in my experience, that’s what I would share. That’s why I wrote the book Holy Shift on that’s why I created the company InCommon.
Matt DeCoursey 40:22
Yeah, I, you know, I think when I look back at today’s conversation, there’s a few things that stand out. And, you know, part of this is like, let me remind everyone, don’t be an out of touch leader. You know, like, it drives me nuts. When I see the division that exists in big companies between, quote, leadership, and the people that work at the company, you’re, you have a dip as a CEO, or founder or whatever it is, you just have a different job than everyone else. It’s, it’s it, you might think it’s more important, but in my company, the most important thing is the people that show up and work for our clients every day. And without them, I’m just a dude looking for something to do. So you gotta have, you gotta have a realization, you got to expect that. I think when it comes to creating company culture, it’s not about more ping pong tables in the break room, find out what your people want to participate in. And that’s going to be different in every kind of company. Like in the Philippines, they love karaoke, and oh my god, I’ve had great time’s going to sing karaoke. I do have the voice of an angel, so that helps. But you know, they have these things that the karaoke things in the Philippines that give you a score, and they like judge your pitch and everything. Yeah, I’m not going to share my score, but it’s not great. But you know, the thing is, is to get out there and form relationships with the people that work with you and for you. It’s a great way for them to also understand what you want as a leader and as a as a company, owner, and it and then the last thing is, is I mean, this is just a simple principle in life. If you help other people get what they want, you just kind of magically find that you get what you want. Now you that whole Pay It Forward mentality of like, help them get it first, like, you have to create value in any situation or any relationship before you can make a withdrawal. Or at least you should a lot of people show up and want to make withdrawals without making any deposits. I live my life on the opposite end of the spectrum, like, I’ve got a hundreds and hundreds long list of people that I’ve never called it into, right? Cuz I want to provide value, I want to do something. I want to show that you can add something positive or valuable to the community people you’re around. If you can do those things, I think you’re going to find that you end up with a culture that makes sense. If you get a chance, check out Holy Shift, Moving Your Company Forward to the Future of Work. But with that, Dan, we’re out of time so I’m going to catch up with you down the road and let you know if any of this any of this company shifting culture is still working or needs help down the road. I’ll see you later.
Dan Michelson 43:20
Sounds good. See you down the road.